October 14, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

Fire and Ice

As LMIFW opens the doors for inclusivity, model Kenny Awomi, 26, hopes to use this platform to highlight overt discrimination faced by transgenders

Where were you born and raised and how much support did you receive from your parents?

 I was born and bought up in a small town in Nagaland called Zunheboto. I was raised by a single wonderful mom, who has always supported and encouraged me to be who I want to be. She has always chosen my happiness over what society wants me to be and I believe every parent should support their kids. I consider myself lucky in terms of my environment as the people around me have been so accepting and that has played an important role in my life while I was growing up.

What was your first exposure to fashion?

My first exposure to fashion was when I took part in my school fashion show. We were all dressed up as women and that was the time I realised, I want to be part of it. There was a feeling of liberation and empowerment. For people it was just a show, but for me it was a life-changing moment, since I decided that I want to be a part of the fashion world and here I am today doing one of the greatest shows in India —- the Lotus Make Up India Fashion Week in association with EbixCash. I have wanted to be a model, growing up I would watch Fashion TV and imagine walking down the runway feeling like an “untouchable”. In 2017, I did my first runway show.

 What are the challenges you faced along the way?

It was very difficult for me to reach where I am today as I never had anyone, who could help or give me opportunities. I had to do everything on my own from going to several auditions and castings and getting rejected for my gender identity. Sometimes the industry can be cruel as well, unless you show how desperately you want to be a part of that family.

Last year, I went for an audition and they kept my registration form aside and wouldn’t let me audition. People don’t know much about trans-people, which sometimes is just a stereotype and not always true. I hope people make an effort to learn and research about people like us and our journey.

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What change would you like to see in the Indian mindset towards transgenders?

I would want them to book us for regular show and not call us only when there are inclusivity or LGBTQ shows. We deserve the same amount of work and respect like any other model, we also work hard like them to be a part of the industry.
The FDCI has taken a great initiative to let all kinds of models be a part of the auditions, and it was the first time ever I felt like I have been treated equally. There were no different auditions held for people like us, which was really amazing and the judges were fair to all the models, who got through. I was one of them, I am really looking forward to be walking for LMIFW, the second time.

When did you come to Delhi and how was your experience here?

My family has always been great, I never had any problems as I am the only child. When I came to Delhi I knew nobody and I was all by myself. I have learned everything watching fashion channels and videos on the internet. I came to Delhi eight years back to pursue my transition and that’s when I learnt more about life and people, since I came from a very small town we didn’t know what it feels like to be discriminated. At that point of time I was sensitive towards what people thought about me and I started living for them and to please them, but now I have learnt how to be emotionally strong and not get affected.

I did my high school at that time since I didn’t know there would be specific quota for people like us. I thought my male educational certificate would not be any use for me, since I was planning to change myself that’s why I dropped out.
Being a transgender can really be expensive because we are not born female. We need to change ourselves through hormone replacement therapies and get help from a doctor to enhance and match our body with our inner self.

Do you think Anjali Lama has paved the way for transgenders in India?

She has played a great role in making it easier for many trans people in India and has educated our society that showbiz is a respectable and lucrative career opportunity for transgenders as well. I want to be an influencer and use my platform to empower my community being the best version of who I am. I can’t think of doing anything besides modelling as I feel like this is where I belong.

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